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Jan Ball "Two Poems"

Happy Birthday Brenda

We celebrate Brenda's birth today
but cannot forget the first year after—
the one year cake with candles
           the spin on black ice then collision

   with a semi-trailer, the destroyed

new blue Honda, the patent leather

          birthday shoes and lacy socks

not in the vicinity of the crashed car.


Fourteen fractured bones

for our daughter, still lactating,

plus    two cracked clavicles

   unable to hold Brenda,

                wincing if we touch her

in the wrong part of her battered body

tri-athlete now prone on the hospital bed,

              neck in a brace, broken ankle

    awaiting surgery for metal support.


For our one-year-old granddaughter,

       a broken leg, bruised spleen and liver;

    in the Children’s Ward, she whimpers

for her mother who is dazed with morphine,

attempting to dry up a mom’s breast milk

                                 with cold compresses,

unable to put cabbage leaves in a bra

to avoid engorgement the natural way

two floors down in Trauma.


So Happy Eighth Birthday, Brenda,

you and your mom survived to celebrate,

but as happy as we are for you, on this day,

we will always recall you crawling

     on the floor    dragging the cast

  on your baby leg for six weeks

                                  after the accident.     

Four Paperweights


She has carefully arranged

the paperweights on her desk,

each one that fits in her palm

like a baby’s foot while drying

between the toes after a bath:


the square glass, bird-embossed

weight that her sister Nancy

gave her for a decade birthday,

knowing her attraction to birds,


the psychedelic strings of red

and green paint that her friend,

Carol enclosed in glass

at the craft shop course

when she convinced her reluctant

ADHD grandson to create a masterpiece

but really just to be with her,


the snow globe from Marseille

with the Cathedral inside

that reminded her of the numerous times

she and her husband encircled it

when their Peugeot GPS gave them

bad advice en route to their condo

in the South of France,


and the paperweight

with the preserved red rose

she gave her son to take to college

to remind him of his work

in the garden with Dad, adding

a calligraphy note: Things are

not always what they seem,

and they weren’t.

Bio: Jan’s 341 published poems have appeared in various journals, for example: ABZ, Mid-American Review and Parnassus. Three chapbooks and one full length poetry collection, I Wanted to Dance With My Father, were published by Finishing Line Press. Orbis, England, nominated her for the Pushcart in 2020. Jan was a nun for seven years then lived in Australia for fourteen years with her Aussie husband and two children. She completed a dissertation at The University of Rochester: Age and Natural Order in Second Language Acquisition then taught ESL at RIT, Loyola and DePaul Universities, back in Chicago. 

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